After a successful takedown of No. 2 University of Minnesota, Duluth, the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team can officially call themselves the best in the nation.
The Badgers (27-2-2-0, 22-2-2-0 WCHA) welcomed the Bulldogs (20-5-5, 17-5-4 WCHA) for a battle between the best teams in the nation. With WCHA playoffs looming right around the corner, this weekend was a critical test for Wisconsin.
Saturday’s game was a matchup between two great teams, and it took almost 50 minutes of play before either managed to score. Both Ann-Renée Desbiens and Duluth’s Maddie Rooney held of many great attempts from opposing teams to keep the game tied up.
It was Wisconsin’s own Sarah Nurse who managed to get the first shot of the night in. Nurse’s victory was short lived, with Duluth netting a goal a mere five minutes later.
After an overtime period that resulted in no goals, the Badgers and the Bulldogs headed into a shootout for the ages. It took a grand total of 12 skaters from both teams to finally decide who would be the victor of Saturday’s game.
It was Wisconsin’s MeKenzie Steffens who finally managed to slide the game ending goal past Rooney. With one more shot, Desbiens waited to see who Duluth would send out with hopes of continuing the game.
Surprisingly, with all the pressure on her, Desbiens actually felt more relieved after Steffens tallied her point than before. The ruthless goaltender mentioned in a press conference after the game that knew she had the game the minute Steffens managed to find the back of the net.
“I feel like this one was less stressful than the 10 before it,” Desbiens said. “That one was the easiest for me. I was like ‘we got it, we need to end it here.’”
Sunday’s game was more somber, with fans saying goodbye to the graduating class of 2017. Nurse, Desbiens, Sydney McKibbon, Jenny Ryan, Mellissa Channell and Mikayla Johnson were all joined by their families as they looked back at their careers at Wisconsin.
Sunday’s game was dramatically different than Saturday’s, with the Badgers managing to find a rhythm quickly and shut out the Bulldogs early. Wisconsin was able pull out a fantastic win, outscoring Duluth 8-0 and earning the WCHA regular season title.
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With an eventful weekend behind them, the Badgers now shift their attention to another Minnesota team, the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. This border battle will be the final game in the regular season for UW.
The Badgers and the Gophers hit the ice Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. in what is sure to be a grand finale to an amazing season.